BEIJING — Who else but Marie-Philip Poulin?
The big-time performer who has made a career of thriving on hockey’s biggest stages did it again Thursday in Beijing, helping Canada reclaim Olympic women’s hockey gold against its arch rival.
Poulin led Canada with two goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in a 3-2 win over the United States in the gold-medal game.
The Canadian captain scored in a fourth straight Olympic final. She has a combined seven goals in those games.
“It’s just so good. It’s a great feeling,” Poulin said. “It was one hell of an effort.”
Sarah Nurse contributed a goal and an assist, with goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens making 38 saves for the victory.
The win in Beijing was especially sweet for Canada’s 13 returning players who felt heartbreak in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, losing 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout.
“This is redemption,” Poulin said.
Later Tuesday, Marielle Thompson added to Canada’s medal tally with a silver in ski cross. It was Canada’s 20th medal of the Games (four gold, five silver, 11 bronze).
Canada’s fourth gold of the Games capped a dominant tournament for the Canadian women’s hockey team. The players rewrote the Olympic hockey record book in multiple categories in Beijing, starting with 57 tournament goals surpassing the 44 of their 2010 predecessors.
Claire Thompson, Sarah Nurse and tournament MVP Brianne Jenner put together strong individual performances.
“This group is very special,” Poulin said. “This group has been putting the work in since 2018.
“We’ve been having that motivation with that silver medal. But it’s teamwork, it’s one team – from staff to players – and it was huge today.”
In Zhangjiakou, Thompson was back on an Olympic podium after an eight-year wait.
Thompson, from Whistler, B.C., made a late push in the big final of the women’s ski cross to win silver – the Canadian’s first medal since capturing ski cross gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Thompson was dead last for most of the final until a late gutsy double pass saw her take second.
“I just stuck with it,” she said. “I knew I was fast at the bottom and I knew I could do some single rollers rather than jumping, especially in this fresh snow, so I just stuck with it, didn’t give up till the end and it worked out for me.”
Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund took home the gold. Daniela Maier won bronze when Switzerland’s Fanny Smith was disqualified after a lengthy video review.
Canada had four skiers in the semifinals, but only Thompson advanced to the big final.
Pyeongchang silver medallist Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que., won the small final to finish fifth. Courtney Hoffos of Windermere, B.C., was sixth and Ottawa’s Hannah Schmidt was seventh.
At the Ice Cube, Canada’s Jennifer Jones crashed out of the tournament despite winning her final match of the preliminary round.
Jones beat Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont 10-4 in the round-robin finale, which temporarily kept her playoff hopes alive.
But losses by Russia and South Korea sent Canada packing.
Jones finished fifth in the 10-team standings with a 5-4 record. Britain and Japan, also at 5-4, advanced based on their better draw shot challenge (DSC) numbers.
Earlier, Canada’s men’s curling team closed out its round-robin schedule with a 5-2 loss to Britain. Both teams had already qualified for the semifinals.
Brad Gushue’s Canadian squad finished third at 5-4 and will face second-place Sweden (7-2) in the semifinals later Thursday. Sweden beat Canada 7-4 in the round robin.
“In this game we had a couple goals that we wanted to achieve. To win or to lose was almost irrelevant,” said Gushue.
It was a solid day for Canada at the Genting Snow Park, with all six Canadians – women and men – advancing to their respective finals in freeski halfpipe.
On the women’s side, Rachael Karker of Erin, Ont., was second in qualifying behind China’s Eileen Gu. Cassie Sharpe from Comox, B.C., placed sixth and Calgary’s Amy Fraser finished 11th.
“I think I did well, I’m super happy to make the finals and to put a good run down,” said Karker.
For the men, Calgary’s Brendan Mackay was the top Canadian in fifth, ahead of Noah Bowman, also of Calgary, in sixth. Simon d’Artois from Whistler, B.C., placed eighth.
“I feel really good, the pipe is fantastic and everyone is skiing super well and I’m very happy to put down my runs,” said Mackay.
The top-12 athletes in both the women’s and men’s qualification runs advanced to Friday’s finals.
In women’s alpine combined, Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., failed to complete the downhill portion of the event and did not move on to the final.
Later Thursday, figure skater Madeline Schizas competed in the women’s singles free skate. Russian teen Kamila Valieva led the pack after the short program despite being at the centre of an Olympic doping scandal.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2022.
The Canadian Press